Fromage - "Ondine"
(Belle Antique 9458, 1984/1993, CD)
Fromage. That's French for 'cheese'. This Fromage, however, are not French at all, but rather they are a Japanese five-piece (g/k/d/b/v+flute) from the 80s. The keyword here is "80s". A very dated sound, typical of a lot of 80s prog. The all-too-nasal and thin vocals (in Japanese) are used in a very standard manner, as the band marches seemingly happily through these traditionally-structured pop/prog anthems. The best moments are the extended instrumental passages, where occasionally the writing diverges into a more mellow, jazzy mold. Some nice acoustic/lead guitar work will surprise you amongst all the tired dribble, as on the lead cut "Extermination" and the lengthy symphonic "Ondine", which is by a longshot the album's strongest cut. The style here is formulaic 70s, but it's a welcome refresher compared to the rest of the cuts. At the other end of the scale, there is the following cut "Color Vision Night" which is obviously inspired by Abacab-era Genesis and uses the pseudo-English chorus "Bye bye bye my love, see you again, and hello my love." Ouch. Belle Antique has certainly done better than this. Fromage. Cheese. Yep.
(Originally published in Exposť #5, p. 37, Edited for Gnosis 4/23/01)
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